Havenfall by Sara Holland
From Goodreads: A safe haven between four realms. The girl sworn to protect it–at any cost.
Hidden deep in the mountains of Colorado lies the Inn at Havenfall, a sanctuary that connects ancient worlds–each with their own magic–together. For generations, the inn has protected all who seek refuge within its walls, and any who disrupt the peace can never return.
For Maddie Morrow, summers at the inn are more than a chance to experience this magic first-hand. Havenfall is an escape from reality, where her mother sits on death row accused of murdering Maddie’s brother. It’s where Maddie fell in love with handsome Fiorden soldier Brekken. And it’s where one day she hopes to inherit the role of Innkeeper from her beloved uncle.
But this summer, the impossible happens–a dead body is found, shattering everything the inn stands for. With Brekken missing, her uncle gravely injured, and a dangerous creature on the loose, Maddie suddenly finds herself responsible for the safety of everyone in Havenfall. She’ll do anything to uncover the truth, even if it means working together with an alluring new staffer Taya, who seems to know more than she’s letting on. As dark secrets are revealed about the inn itself, one thing becomes clear to Maddie–no one can be trusted, and no one is safe . . .
Thanks so much to Netgalley and Bloosmbury for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
When I first heard that Havenfall was coming out, I didn’t quite know what to expect. I remember the hype for Everless being quite extreme, but then I just never got around to book two, and it’s still sitting on my TBR waiting for me to pick it up (soon, I promise!). So yeah, I didn’t know too much about Havenfall going into it, except that I enjoyed some of Holland’s previous writing. One of my friends, Becca also gave it a great review, and since we have similar tastes, I thought that was a pretty good sign.
Havenfall is a weird book. Good weird, but still kind of odd. It is based in our world, in a sort of nexus point where other worlds connect. Havenfall serves as a kind of peaceful location for political discussions between the allied worlds, and the main character, Maddie, is hoping to become the next Innkeeper, the person who runs the meetings and keeps everything ticking over. I thought this was pretty unique. I’ve seen lots of YA books about royalty, and on occasion books where politics come into it, but I’ve never seen anything quite like this before. It was refreshing, and interesting, and it hooked me from quite early on. It helps that the pacing was tight, too. The tension was always simmering away, and there are definite moments where it picks up and really doesn’t let you go. There were some very high-stakes, and it helped me almost immediately sympathise with Maddie. She has so much responsibility, and it was just awesome to see her grow with this and learn from her mistakes and become an even better character as the story progressed.
The world-building was interesting, but I think it could have been a bit stronger. It was patchy in places—there were moments when there wasn’t quite enough backstory, when the magic systems or politics were glossed over a bit too much. I would have really liked to see this be polished and gleaming. Although I do wonder how much of this is because it’s only a first book, and whether Holland might be saving more info for later. I’d be fine with that. From what we did get to see, I’m pretty intrigued. There were some beautiful descriptions of Havenfall, and I definitely felt like I was falling right into the story whenever it was described. It was also quite nice to see how some of the politics worked, the tensions between the different worlds, and stuff. All in all, it’s a good, strong start to a series.
Character-wise, I think this was pretty decent. Maddie was well-developed. She has a difficult past, and it was interesting to dip into her head and see bits of that influencing how she acted throughout the novel. She was definitely my favourite. I also liked Grayling for some reason. Even though he’s kind of a minor character in the grand scheme of the book, I enjoyed his subtle, kind parenting. I do think we could have done with seeing a bit more of Brekken, and while Taya appears quite frequently throughout the novel, I think we were missing some of her character too. But again, I do understand some of the reasoning for this. I just hope there’s more development later down the line, because right now I don’t know much about these characters.
Overall, I’d give Havenfall an 8/10. I liked what I saw, and I thought the story was utterly unique, but I thought the world-building at times fell a bit short, and the other characters needed to be developed a bit more. But it was a good start to a new series, and I’m curious to see what happens next!
Has anyone else read this book already or plans to? What do you all think of it? Let me know in the comment section down below ❤